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The Highlights of Cambodia

(9 Days - Departs Daily on a Private Basis)

Siem Reap (Angkor Wat), Battambang, Phnom Penh

 

Get off the beaten track and explore the best of Cambodia on this epic overland and cruise journey from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. The adventure starts at the majestic temples of Angkor, where you have three days to experience the ruins at your own pace. Board a private boat for the spectacular journey across the waterways of Lake Tonle Sap to Battambang, a charming provincial town in Cambodia’s “rice bowl”. After exploring the area's colonial heritage and fertile countryside, drive to the capital Phnom Penh by road.

 

** All our tours are Exclusive Private Tours, so you will not be put together with other guests **

 

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Day 1: Welcome to Siem Reap

Fly to Siem Reap, CAMBODIA                                                           

 

Welcome to Cambodia. Upon arrival at Siem Reap Airport, obtain your Cambodia visa (please refer to your Special Program Note), and then clear Immigration and Customs.  After collecting your baggage, exit the airport to meet outside a local Guide of Global Travel & Tours. He/she will be holding a sign with your names on it. Please note that local guides are not allowed inside the airport.

 

From the airport, you will be privately transferred to your lovely boutique hotel. Siem Reap is the base for exploring the fabled temples of Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire.

 

Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 4 nights in Siem Reap

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Shinta Mani Resort, Viroth’s Boutique Hotel, Pavillon d’Orient Boutique

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Park Hyatt Siem Reap, Belmond La Residence d’Angkor, Victoria Angkor Resort

 

Day 2: Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

These temples were built from the 9th to 12th centuries by a Khmer empire that controlled not only Cambodia but large parts of what are now Laos, Thailand and Vietnam as well. With their grandeur of scale and extraordinary delicacy in detail, the temples rank among humankind's most supreme artistic expressions. Spend the early morning visit the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (12th century). See the South Gate with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk, visit Bayon temple (unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara), Baphuon (recently re-opened after years of restoration), the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace, and the Terrace of the Leper King.

 

In the late afternoon and sunset hours, explore the most famous of all the temples on the plain of Angkor: Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Angkor Wat’s five towers symbolize Meru’s five peaks – the enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat, the ocean beyond. Sunset at Angkor Wat.

 

After dusk, you'll be returned to your hotel with the evening free to relax or explore independently.

 

Day 3: Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

Today, meet your personal guide and driver. Rise early to travel to Ta Phrom. Built in 1186, Ta Phrom was dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII. Its atmospheric dark gray sandstone towers and courtyards exude an aura of reverence and mystery. Unlike most of the other inner temples of Angkor, Ta Phrom has been left to the elements and looks very much as it must have when "discovered" by Henri Mouhot in the 1860s. Navigating through its narrow passages, immense kapok trees and jungle-covered ruins is an unparalleled experience and one of the highlights of Angkor. Next, you’ll visit Preah Khan or 'Sacred Sword', built by King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century. Sister temple to Ta Prohm, the cruciform corridors here are impressive and there are some wonderful carvings adorning the walls, including the spectacular hall of dancers. Look out for the curious two-storey structure that is almost Grecian in inspiration. This is one of the few temples originally dedicated to Buddhism and Hinduism. The original eastern entrance was for Mahayana Buddhists, while the other cardinal points represented the Hindu trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Next, to Banteay Kdei This temple was the first great Buddhist monastery in Cambodia, constructed by Jayavarman VII during the 12th and 13th centuries. Its system of galleries and vestibules that were added after the construction of the main towers makes it look like a cloister. It was built in sandstone, which has deteriorated quite badly. However, there remain some very beautiful lintels and pediments. Although it is in a ruinous state. You’ll then visit Ta Keo King Suryavarman I commissioned this temple in the 10th Century, but it was never completed so has no elaborate decoration like its contemporaries. It is a pyramid on 5 levels and is dedicated to Shiva. Some scholars contend this was due to an inauspicious lightning strike during construction. Others have suggested the high quality sandstone was simply too hard to carve in detail.

 

Later this afternoon, journey north to visit Banteay Srei. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia and the name translates as ‘Fortress of the Women', thanks to the intricate detail here, considered too fine for the hands of a man. Originally believed to date from the latter part of the Angkor period, inscriptions at the site suggest it was built by a Brahman in 967. However, some architectural historians have suggested that the inscriptions may date from an earlier structure on this site and the temple is in fact later, marking a high-water mark in Khmer sculpture. Stop at a local village to visit families who are producing palm sugar. Make a short stop at the Land Mine Museum, a rather humble look at the land mine problem, past and present, in Cambodia. Finish your tour with visit Banteay Samre, one of the most complete complexes at Angkor due to restoration using the method of “anastylosis”. The name Samre refers to an ethnic group of mountain people, who inhabited the region at the base of Phnom Kulen and were probably related to the Khmers. No inscriptions have been found for this temple, but the style of most of the architecture is of the classic art of the middle period similar to Angkor Wat.  The proportions of Banteay Samre are splendid. A unique feature is an interior moat with laterite paving, which when filled with water must have given an ethereal atmosphere to the temple.

 

This evening, walk up Phnom Bakheng for a sunset view of Angkor Wat and the surrounding areas. This view provides a wonderful overview of the entire area. (Please note that this site becomes very crowded at sunset, so you may choose to walk up to Pre Rep instead.) 

 

Day 4: Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

This morning you will be met at your hotel at 8.00am and travel to the lost temple of Beng Mealea, the titanic of temples, a slumbering giant lost for centuries in the forests of Cambodia. It is the most accessible of Angkor’s lost temples, a mirror image of Angkor Wat, but utterly consumed by the voracious appetite of nature. Constructed by Suryavarman II (1113-1150), the builder of Angkor Wat, the forest has run riot here and it is hard to get a sense of the monument’s shape amid the daunting ruins. Here it is possible to enjoy an Indiana Jones experience clambering about the vast ruin. For those who want a more gentle adventure, there is also a sturdy wooden walkway running right into the heart of the temple. It is also possible to visit a nearby Angkor-era quarry from where stone was cut to build these massive monuments.

 

We then head into the bush to the remote Angkor capital of Koh Ker is an Angkorian site in northern Cambodia 70 miles northeast of Siem Reap; it was briefly the capital of the Khmer empire between 928 and 944 under king Jayavarman IV and his son Hasavarman II. After the Khmer empire had been established in the Angkor area (Roluos), Jayavarman IV moved the capital in 928 to Koh Ker. Here a vast number of temples were built under his reign, until his successor returned to the Angkor area about twenty years later. The Koh Ker site is dominated by Prasat Thom, a 30-meter-tall temple-mountain raising high above the plain and the surrounding forest. Great views await the visitor at the end of an adventurous climb. The area was only recently de-mined and the road improved. This makes Koh Ker very attractive for anyone who would like to experience what Angkor must has been like half a century ago. Picnic lunch at Koh Ker.

 

After exploring Koh Ker through the afternoon, begin the drive back to Siem Reap arriving this evening for a well-deserved opportunity to freshen up and good night's rest.

 

Day 5: Siem Reap – Battambang

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

Full day private boat trip across Lake Tonle Sap to Battambang: This morning depart Siem Reap by road for the Tonle Sap. On arrival at the lake board your private wooden boat for the 6-7 hours cruise to Battambang, crossing the Tonle Sap Lake to the floating village of Prek Tuol. Enjoy unspoiled landscapes and traditional daily-life scenes. Stop at Cheur Khmao Pagoda, “Black Wood Pagoda”, in Bak Prier floating village. Continue by boa crossing along the Sangker River. A packed lunch is included on board. Arrive Battambang, the second largest city in Cambodia. It is located on a rich and fertile plain, which provides much of the rice and other important crops for the country. Check into your hotel La Villa was constructed in the 1930's by a tradesman from Battambang, this colonial architecture was very fashionable during the French colonial period. The proprietor, Mr Eap Heo later bequeathed his home to his two youngest children who then lived in the residence till the coup d'etat in 1975. Leave the rest of the afternoon free to soak up the atmosphere of this quixotic riverside town or walk through the town to discover its beautiful colonial architecture.

 

Accommodation: Stay 2 nights at the La Villa Battambang (Superior Room)

 

Day 6: Battambang

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

Full day tour of Battambang: After breakfast drive along the picturesque Sangker River to Wat Slaket pagoda, the residence of the provincial Buddhist patriarch. Visit a Khmer Ancient House and make a stop to see the production of rice paper used for making spring rolls. Continue to visit Wat Ek Phnom. Visit the Provincial Museum and the local market. Next, transfer to a local village for a ride on the Bamboo Train. The train comprises of a simple bamboo platform on 4 wheels with a small motor, and was created by local villagers to facilitate the transportation of goods. Travel 8km on the train to the next village through beautiful landscape and rice paddies. On arrival at the village visit a workshop specialising in wooden sculpture.

 

Afternoon, visit Phare Ponleu Selpak, this centre supports around 30 orphans and trafficking victims and is schooling more than 1,200 pupils, over 400 of who study visual arts, music, Circus, drama and dance for leisure or vocational training. Then continue to visit Phnom Banon. The winding road follows the Sangker River and passes by many traditional wooden homes, offering an authentic glimpse of rural Cambodia. Arriving at the temple, with its five sandstone towers on top of a hill and enjoy a magnificent view of the surrounding plains until sunset.

 

Day 7: Battambang – Phnom Penh

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

Road journey from Battambang to Phnom Penh with sightseeing en route: Today travel by road from Battambang to Phnom Penh, a journey of 290km. 4-5 hours’ drive. Pass through typical Cambodian landscapes of endless rice fields dotted with sugar palms. En-route to Pursat and visit the stone carving in Pursat. Next, continue to the small town of Krakor and turn off the main road to visit the incredible floating town of Kompong Luong. The largest floating community on the Tonle Sap Lake, there are almost 10,000 inhabitants living here. Everything floats on water, including the schools, the clinic, the shops and the petrol station. You will explore by boat and experience life in a real floating community untouched by mass tourism. Continue your journey to the busy riverside town of Kompong Chhnang where you stop to see the silversmith village and the pottery village.

 

Later continue to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Check into your hotel. This city was once considered one of the most beautiful in Orient, and despite its recent turbulent history it still retains a colonial charm.

 

Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 2 nights in Phnom Penh

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: La Rose Suites, The Pavillon, Arunreas Hotel

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra

 

Day 8: Phnom Penh

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Today, meet your personal guide and driver and drive to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek (16 km south of Phnom Penh). Between 1975 and 1978 about 17,000 men, women, children and infants (including nine westerners) detained and tortured at S-21 prison were transported to the extermination camp of Choeung Ek. They were often bludgeoned to death to avoid wasting precious bullets. Fragments of human bone and bits of cloth are scattered around the disinterred pits. Over 8,000 skulls, arranged by sex and age, are visible behind the clear glass panels of the Memorial Stupa, which was erected in 1988. You'll then continue to visit the notorious Tuol Sleng Museum. In 1975 Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot's security forces and turned into a prison known as Security Prison 21 (S-21). It soon became the largest such center of detention and torture in the country. More than 17,000 people held at S-21 were taken to the extermination camp at Choeung Ek to be executed; detainees who died during torture were buried in mass graves in the prison ground. Room after room the museum displays photographs of men, women and children covering the walls from floor to ceiling; virtually all the people pictured were later killed.

 

After lunch at a local restaurant, continue to discover the Royal Palace built in 1866 by King Norodom. See the different structures of this pagoda-style compound and stroll in its beautiful garden. Visit the Silver Pagoda so named because of its floor that is comprised of 5,000 silver tiles. A gold Buddha encrusted with 9,584 diamonds and a small 17th century emerald and baccarat crystal Buddha are also housed here. Next, visit the National Museum. Built in 1917 it is an exceptional example of traditional architecture and is exclusively devoted to preserving and displaying Khmer art and sculptures. Hundreds of pieces are housed here including both pre-and post-Angkorian pieces. Finish your tour at the city's namesake, Wat Phnom. Founded in 1373, the pagoda was built to house Buddhist relics washed ashore by the river. Later this afternoon enjoy one-hour sunset cruise on the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers. The boat will pass past floating villages, providing great views of the city’s rapidly changing skyline.

 

Day 9: Depart Phnom Penh

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Today free at leisure until your guide and driver transfer to the Phnom Penh airport in time for your flight to next destination. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey.

 

 

Price guideline:

 

The above tour costs from $1,100*per person, based on 2 people sharing a double or twin room.

 

*Please note this price is subject to change at the time of booking, and depends on the date of travel and the availability of accommodation.

 

Our price includes (Private tour): 

• Accommodation base in a shared double or twin room throughout

Daily buffet breakfast at hotel and all hotels taxes and service charges.

Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle as specified in the itinerary.

Travel by private, air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced, safe driver.

Private sightseeing with local, English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary.

Meals included as indicated as in program: B: breakfast, L: lunch & D: dinner.

Boat cruise as specified in the programmed.

Entrance fees according the above program.

Local bottled water while sightseeing and transfers.

VAT and all taxes and service charge.

 

The price does not include

International flight tickets and Visas

Any items of purely personal nature such as laundry and telephone calls

Personal, travel and health insurance

Early check in and late check out

Drinks during meals

Meals that are not specified

Gratuities/tipping to tour guide, driver and hotel staff and restaurant’s staff

 

 

All of our itineraries can customized as you wish, add extra days, change a hotel, and see different sights. For information on this or our other tours please email us at: info@globaltravel-asia.com